It’s short answer Sunday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…
1. Explaining doctor’s visits — and their side effects — to your manager
Recently, you answered a reader’s question about explaining frequent doctor’s visits. I have a similar situation, but mine causes significantly more disruption to my work and I’m not sure how to talk about it with my boss.
I’ve rewritten the paragraph trying to describe my situation without giving away my problem a bunch of times, but I give up. It’s warts! I have a several big, nasty warts on my foot. Ugh, so embarrassing. Anyway, so I have these warts. Had ‘em for years. I’m finally getting serious about getting rid of them and it’s a real endeavor. The treatment (cantharidin) that is finally working requires biweekly application and is significantly debilitating: It’s very painful and as a result I am pretty sleep-deprived/loopy on painkillers the day after the treatment and can’t drive for four or five additional days. I just had my third treatment today and will probably need at least three more.
I work remotely, don’t manage anyone, and control my own highly flexible schedule, but my job requires me to be out and about in the community, attending meetings and events. So far, I’ve been able to schedule around my appointments (arranging to have the appointments late in the week, blocking off the couple of days immediately following an appointment for desk work, etc.) and it hasn’t had a direct effect on important meetings, etc. But it does limit the time I’m able to spend on outreach, and the pain is significant enough to be distracting for several days after each treatment.
I work in a Results Only Work Environment, and I’m months away from deadlines on my biggest goals, so I’ll be able to catch up once the treatments are done. But I feel like I need to loop my boss in a bit more. Do you have suggestions for how I can handle this conversation?
The key in situations like this is to distinguish between info that would be helpful for your manager to have (that your’e dealing with something medical, it’s nothing she needs to worry about, and that it’ll affect you/your schedule in X ways) and info she doesn’t need (warts). So you might say something like, “I wanted to let you know that I’m having a series of medical treatments over the next few weeks for something that’s minor, but that is going to impact my ability to drive and sometimes focus for a few days each time because of the painkillers they’ll be giving me. I’m scheduling meetings and work around it, but I wanted to give you a heads-up that it’s going on, just in case anything seems different than usual for the next few weeks. It’ll all be finished by January.”
2. Did my manager rob me of this internal promotion?
Recently an internal job was advertised through my manager for 3 positions. I applied for the role with my manager’s permission and had a successful interview. When my manager was told that both I and another member of my current team had been successful, she made the interviewer pick between us, as she said she could not give us both up due to resources. The interviewer picked my colleague.
I feel like I have been robbed of an opportunity to better myself and my career. My colleague will be replaced with a member of staff from a larger team (who I will train) and the interviewer has been told to pick another member of staff from one of the larger teams. Is my manager within her rights to do this? If they are replacing my colleague within the team, why could they not have replaced me as well?
Sure, your manager can do that. It’s often much harder to lose two people (and be training two new people) at once, so it’s not surprising that she didn’t want to lose both of you. This is often part of the deal with internal promotions: Your manager’s input counts for a lot more than it might if you were looking outside your company, and she can often control timing and whether a promotion happens at all. I wouldn’t look at it as being robbed — this is pretty par for the course with internal moves. You don’t always get them, for reasons that aren’t always entirely about your qualifications … which, of course, is also true with external moves as well. Stuff isn’t always fair.
3. My post-interview follow-ups were forwarded
I’ve applied for several jobs in the last three months; many of them I had phone screenings and a full interview, and then I followed up with an email sent to the interviewer. For three of the jobs, I received quick emails acknowledging receipt of my follow-up email, but I also noticed on the bottom of them they had been forwarded to human resources or the recruiter who made initial contact. I’m assuming in these cases I was not suppose to see the forwarded message that contained quick phrases such as “FYI”, “forwarded as per discussion” and a similar message about my follow-up letter, followed by a private conversation about the interviewer’s dog and personal relationship issues.
It’s one thing to see this once, but to see it three different times over the last few weeks seems very strange. Is forwarding follow-up emails to recruiters/HR standard? Is it a part of a file they keep on applicants? What would be the reasoning for forwarding a follow-up email to HR/recruiter? Should I email the interviewers about this, or leave it alone, especially in the case of the really long email about the dog and relationship issues?
All these interviews seem to have gone well, and the follow-up letters were very short but included two reasons I would do well in the position and touched on one or two points the interviewer had mentioned in the interview in terms of looking for a solution to an issue they were having (e,g. streamlining data entry, client relations, and event planning ideas), and to be honest they weren’t remarkable.
Yes, it’s normal to share correspondence like this with anyone involved in the hiring process and to keep it part of your overall file for that job. After all, you sent those follow-ups as part of your candidacy, and they’re treated that way. You shouldn’t email them about it; that would be weird. And you should simply ignore the personal message that you weren’t meant to see.
4. Leaving previous career experience on your resume when graduating into a new field
After high school, I spent a short time in college because I was unsure of which path I should take. I opted to explore my interests, and over a few months I tried a hodgepodge of jobs until eventually settling into a retail position I enjoyed. I worked with a major cosmetics company that promoted me several times over a 7-year period and gave me a tremendous amount of responsibility. But I decided I wanted to do more with my life, and I could only do that by finishing school. I left my job and returned to academia. This month, I will graduate from an Ivy League university with a degree in English. I am passionate about publishing and have been working in the industry for the last few years through various internships and freelance writing jobs. Now it’s time to move from an internship to something that actually pays. Suddenly, at 30, I’m applying for entry-level jobs that most people hold in their early 20s. Luckily the cosmetics experience kept my skin looking young, but I’m afraid HR will see my previous career as a red flag.
Should I take this off my resume? The professional experience I gained formed a practical basis for my academic career and I know that it will continue to serve me professionally. I just wonder if HR will see it that way.
Nope, leave it on there. For most employers, the fact that you have previous real-world work experience will be a plus, not a negative.
5. When should you send interview thank-you notes?
I have a quick question regarding thank-you/follow-up letters. I know you said to wait at least a few hours before sending a follow-up letter, but how long should I wait? If the interview was on a Friday, would waiting until Monday to send it look bad? I would send it today, but I take quite a while to write them as I tailor each one… and by the time I finish the interviewers will probably no longer be in the office. Anyway, your advice would greatly be appreciated.
Sending it on Monday is fine. You’re not expected to have these sent instantly. The whole idea is that you don’t want them to appear perfunctory; you want it to appear that you’ve thought about your conversation in the interview, digested it, and are still interested. You don’t want to wait too long, or they may have already made a hiring decision, but sending them on Monday after a Friday interview is completely fine.
6. PTO when converting from hourly to salaried
I am soon going to be converted to salary. I have been hourly for almost a year. What happens to my PTO earned? Can they just tell me that since they are converting me, I now lose it and part of the company’s salary vacation policy?
It depends on what state you’re in and what your company’s policy on PTO is. No federal law requires that employers give paid vacation time at all, so at the federal level, employers are free to handle their vacation policies however they want, including telling you that you’re losing all your accrued PTO when you transfer to a salaried job — although that would be both unusual and dumb. However, some states (like California) have laws that govern how accrued PTO is handled, so your state’s laws may require that they pay it out, leave it accrued, or otherwise handle it in a specific manner.
7. Using a title below your official one
I’m wondering what advice you have about using a job title below the title you’ve officially been given. I am a young professional (just finishing a master’s degree), working at a small non-profit with two staff members (me and the ED). A few months ago, my boss decided to give me the title COO. Since that is my title I’ve been using it, but I’m starting to look for a new job (I’ve been there about 18 months and I don’t see a growth path where I am now). As I said I’m a young professional working for a small organization and I think that title 1) doesn’t reflect what I do very well and 2) seems too senior for someone with my level of experience. Do you suggest I use the COO title and give an explanation when looking for other jobs, use a different title, or talk to my boss and change my title all together?
Don’t use a title different than the one that your company will give out to someone calling to verify your information. You’re better off trying to get a title that reflects your real responsibilities.